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U.S. Senate

Senate Bill 2092 (2012)

Religious Freedom Protection Act of 2012

112th CONGRESS
2d Session

February 9, 2012

Mr. MANCHIN (for himself and Mr. RUBIO) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

A BILL

To amend title XXVII of the Public Health Service Act to provide conscience protections for individuals and organizations.


Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the `Religious Freedom Protection Act of 2012'.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

Congress finds that--

(1) religious freedom and liberty of conscience are inalienable rights enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and the First Amendment to the United States Constitution;

(2) on August 1, 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a mandate requiring individual and group health plans to cover sterilization and all Food and Drug Administration approved contraceptives, including drugs that could be used to induce abortions;

(3) the mandate's exemption for `religious employers' is unprecedented in Federal law and excludes thousands of religious organizations, including religiously affiliated charities, health care providers, and schools; and

(4) despite receiving thousands of comments protesting the extremely narrow exemption, the Department of Health and Human Services nonetheless announced on January 20, 2012, that it would not broaden the exemption but would instead give religious institutions an additional year to `adapt' their consciences to the mandate.

SEC. 3. AMENDMENT TO THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE ACT.

(a) In General-

Section 2713 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 300gg-13) is amended by adding at the end the following:

`(d) Conscience Protections-

`(1) IN GENERAL- No guideline, regulation, or other requirement issued by any Federal, State, or local government pursuant to subsection (a)(4), or any other provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Public Law 111-148) or the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-152), or the amendments made by those Acts, shall--

`(A) require any individual or entity to offer, provide, or purchase health insurance coverage for a contraceptive or sterilization service, or related education or counseling, to which that individual or entity is opposed on the basis of religious belief or moral conviction;

`(B) require any individual or entity that is opposed on the basis of religious belief or moral conviction to providing health insurance coverage of a contraceptive or sterilization service to engage in government-mandated speech regarding such a service; or

`(C) prohibit any group health plan or health insurance issuer from offering or providing individual or group health insurance coverage that excludes coverage for a contraceptive or sterilization service, or related education or counseling, which the individual or entity purchasing the plan or coverage opposes on the basis of religious belief or moral conviction.

`(2) RULE OF CONSTRUCTION- Nothing in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Public Law 111-148) or the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-152), or the amendments made by those Acts, and no regulations, guidelines, or other requirement issued under such Acts (or amendments) shall be construed to authorize the imposition of a fine, penalty, or other sanction, or to otherwise disadvantage any individual or entity on the basis of a religiously based or morally based decision not to offer, provide, or purchase health insurance coverage for a contraceptive or sterilization service, or to engage in government mandated speech regarding such services.

`(3) PRIVATE RIGHT OF ACTION- The protections of conscience contained in this subsection constitute the protection of individual rights and create a private cause of action for those individuals or entities protected. Any such individual or entity may assert a violation of this subsection as a claim or defense in a judicial proceeding.

`(4) REMEDIES-

`(A) FEDERAL JURISDICTION- The Federal courts shall have jurisdiction to prevent and redress actual or threatened violations of this subsection by granting all forms of legal or equitable relief, including, but not limited to, injunctive relief, declaratory relief, damages, costs, and attorney fees.

`(B) INITIATING PARTY- An action under this subsection may be instituted by the Attorney General of the United States, or by any person or entity having standing to complain of a threatened or actual violation of this subsection, including, but not limited to, any actual or prospective plan sponsor, issuer, or other entity offering a plan, any actual or prospective purchaser or beneficiary of a plan, and any individual or institutional health care provider.

`(C) INTERIM RELIEF- Pending final determination of any action under this subsection, the court may at any time enter such restraining order or prohibitions, or take such other actions, as it deems necessary.

`(5) ADMINISTRATION- The Office for Civil Rights of the Department of Health and Human Services is designated to receive complaints of discrimination based on this subsection and coordinate the investigation of such complaints.

`(6) DEFINITION- For purposes of this subsection, the term `entity' includes a group health plan, a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage, and an employer or other sponsor of such plan or coverage.'.

(b) Effective Date-

The amendment made by subsection (a) shall be effective as if included in the enactment of Public Law 111-148.

 

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